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  • Writer's pictureTim Murphy

C&O Canal Trip: Day 1

Starting Point: Cumberland, MD (Mile marker 185)

End Point: Paw Paw, WV (Mile marker 156.2)

Total Distance Traveled: 28.8 miles

Today I began my 185 mile-long journey along the C&O Canal. For those of you who don't know, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal first underwent construction in 1831 and was finally completed 1850. This impressive transportation system, which follows the Potomac from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD, operated for nearly 100 years before closing in 1924. Between 1924 and 1938, the canal was left abandoned and subject to disrepair and flood damage. In 1938, the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad bought the abandoned canal and, after ongoing restorations, became part of the National Park Service.

Abandoned Railroad Bridge

I decided to begin the trip in Cumberland and work my way back to Georgetown. Cumberland is a quaint little city tucked away in the Appalachians, the epitome of the economic boom of coal and rail industries during the 1800s. Cumberland, in addition to being part of the towpath, also connects with the Great Alleghany Passage, which is another bike trail that goes all the way to Pittsburgh, about another 185 miles (maybe we'll revisit this in the near future...). I really wish I could have stayed longer in the city and explored a bit, but I had to be on my way. I have nearly 200 miles to cover over the course of a few days.

I started the trek at around 1:00 pm and arrived in Paw Paw, WV at 4:30. Nearly thirty miles in three-and-a-half hours isn't bad, especially considering break times. So far, it has been a really enjoyable ride. The weather has been great and it should only get better from this point on. Plus, the trail is in pretty good condition; not very muddy or rocky. I must say that I'm having a blast! It's really nice and relaxing to explore this beautiful countryside. Below are some pictures that highlight the day:

For more info on the C&O, visit these sites:

For more info on Cumberland:


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